The Wild Things Pet Owners are Adding to Their Homes

Someone once said no one ever “owned” a cat. But if you look at what some cat and dog owners are spending to make their homes more enjoyable for their pets, you might start to wonder who owns whom.

Standard Pacific Homes, an Irvine, California-based builder, has added “pet suites” to its top-end homes. Amenities include:

  • Step-in wash station with a handheld sprayer and leash lead
  • Tile walls and floors
  • Designated drying area with a commercial-sized pet dryer
  • Water station
  • Automated feeders
  • A large, bunk-style bed
  • Cabinets for toys, treats and food
  • Stackable washer and dryer
  • French door opening onto a puppy run
  • Flat-screen television set (presumably looping “All Dogs Go To Heaven”) (1)


For the dog lover who wants to pamper Butterscotch without adding a room, there’s the Jentle Pet 1 Pet Spa, a dog-sized tub that can be installed into a regular (human) bathtub. The Pet Spa features a handheld shower and five whirlpool massage jets, just the thing for relaxing after the stress-filled dog days of summer. The Pet Spa can be yours for $3,000.


Don’t worry about the cats; they aren’t missing out. The market for outdoor rooms for felines, cunningly named “catios,” has been growing for several years.

What began with handy, do-it-yourself cat owners enclosing a deck with chicken wire to let Fluffy get a taste of the outdoors has morphed into a full-on cottage industry, with some home renovators marketing their experience in creating elaborate catios.

One example is Seattle’s “Catio Spaces,” a professional design/build company offering different catio enclosures in nine different styles ranging from Feng Shui to Shabby Chic or Bohemian.

One customer named her catio “Ember and Chloe’s Afterglow Lounge.” This $5,000 addition to the exterior of her Portland home includes various perching and climbing levels, water and food stations and even a koi pond for Ember and Chloe’s amusement (it’s unlikely to be much fun for the koi, though).

Then there’s Madelaine Hare, whose cats have a treehouse complete with a second-story skywalk, all fully enclosed. Catio owners emphasize the importance of protecting cats from predators and possible disease-carrying prey. (2)

catio 1

With 62 percent of American homes including at least one pet and pet expenditures doubling in just 10 years, builders are increasingly conscious of the need to accommodate pet-friendly designs and materials. Flooring manufacturers are emphasizing the benefits of tile or stone flooring over hardwoods for the clawed members of the household. Flooring should be accompanied, of course, with a radiant heat system for cozier floor-naps. (3)

Another innovation is the Powerloo, an in-yard waste disposal system connected directly to the home’s sewer. Inside, HVAC companies are pushing high-end, integrated air purifiers to help control pet-related allergens and shedding. And any homeowner who shares his or her home with a long-haired canine or feline knows the value of a whole-house central vacuum. (4)

Being pet-friendly can add up. These newest home trends fall in line with $500 dog strollers, professional pet massagers and ice cream trucks for dogs. (5)

Recent research shows that 77 percent of American pet owners talk to their pets as humans and treat them just as if they were regular family members. It can all seem a little crazy to non-pet owners. But psychologists explain that, especially with the growing number of single-person and empty-nest households, pets can serve to satisfy our need to nurture in much the way that human offspring do. In that way, it only makes sense that many of us come to view them, treat them and pamper them as family. (6)

1-AP; Standard Pacific Homes
2-New York Times; Catio Spaces
3-Professional Builder
4-Powerloo; Honeywell
5-The Posh Puppy Boutique; NY Daily News; New York Times
6-Kelton Research; Current Directions in Psychological Science, Nicholas Epley and Adam Waytz

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